List of Electron rocket launches

Summary

The Electron
The Electron

The Electron designed by Rocket Lab debuted in May 2017.[1] Since then the Electron has flown 12 times with 11 successes in a row.

The first flight, known as "It's a Test", launched on 25 May 2017 and successfully separated the first and second stages, as well as the fairings. However, at 224 kilometres (139 mi) altitude and on the nominal trajectory to reach orbit, the rocket lost communication with the ground, and the rocket was thus destroyed for safety reasons, per the planned launch safety protocol.[2] The mission failed due to a glitch in communication equipment on the ground, instead of the rocket.

Several follow-on missions, including "Still Testing", "It's Business Time" and "This One's For Pickering", delivered multiple small payloads to low Earth orbit. The most recent mission, "Don't Stop Me Now", successfully delivered various payloads to orbit.

Launch history

Launch statistics

Launch Outcomes

3
6
9
12
15
2017
2018
2019
2020
2021
2022
  •   Failure
  •   Partial failure
  •   Success
  •   Scheduled

Launch Sites

1
2
3
4
5
6
2017
2018
2019
2020

Booster Tests and Recoveries

1
2
3
4
5
6
2017
2018
2019
2020
  •   No Attempt
  •   Failure
  •   Atmospheric Test Success
  •   Ballute Test Success
  •   Recovered [Ocean]
  •   Recovered [Helicopter]

Rocket Configurations

1
2
3
4
5
6
2017
2018
2019
2020
  •   Block I
  •   Block Upgrade [Thrusters]
  •   Block Upgrade [Ballute]
  •   Block Upgrade [Parafoil]

2017–2018

Electron experienced its first successful launch in January 2018, and launched their first mission for NASA in December 2018.

Flight No. Name Date/time
(UTC)
Launch site Payload Payload mass Destination Customer(s) Launch outcome Booster recovery
1 "It's a Test" 25 May 2017, 04:20[3] Mahia, LC-1A None None 500 km 85° LEO Rocket Lab (flight test) Failure No attempt
The rocket successfully launched and performed first stage separation and fairing separation. After reaching an altitude of about 224 kilometres (139 mi) (planned 500 kilometres (310 mi) at 85° inclination),[4] the telemetry feed to the range safety officer was lost and the rocket was destroyed by range safety officer.[5][6] Post-flight analysis determined the issue to be a simple ground software failure rather than a problem with the rocket.[7] The ground software issue was found to be a contractor's failure to enable forward error correction on their hardware leading to data corruption.[7][8] Rocket Lab made no changes to the Electron vehicle and instead implemented adjustment to producers to prevent similar problems.[7]
2 "Still Testing" 21 January 2018, 01:43[9] Mahia, LC-1A 13 kilograms (29 lb)[11] LEO Success No attempt
Carrying CubeSats for Planet Labs and Spire Global.[12] The two Lemur-2 satellites were put into a circularized orbit by the new "Electron kick stage" which was not announced until after the launch.[13] Between December 2017 and January 2018 the launch was delayed six times due to weather, orbital traffic, rocket, and range safety issues.[14][15][16][17] Put Lemur-2 payloads into 500 km (310 mi) high orbit at 85° inclination while the Dove Pioneer satellite was put into a 289 kilometres (180 mi) x 533 kilometres (331 mi).[4][18]
3 "It's Business Time"[19] 11 November 2018, 03:50 Mahia, LC-1A[19][20]
Approx 45 kilograms (99 lb)[11] 500 km 85° LEO
  • Spire Global
  • GeoOptics
  • Irvine CubeSat STEM Program
  • High Performance Space Structure Systems
  • Fleet Space Technologies
Success No attempt
The 11 November 2018 launch was successful; all cubesats planned to be deployed were deployed in orbit. The launch, originally planned for April 2018, had been delayed several times: to June/July after unusual behavior was identified in a motor controller during a wet dress rehearsal,[19][22] by a few days after a ground tracking antenna issue in the Chatham Island tracking station[24] and indefinitely after another motor controller issue.[25][26] In October 2018, a nine-day launch window was announced starting 11 November 2018.[27]
4 "This One's For Pickering"[28] 16 December 2018, 06:33[29] Mahia, LC-1A
  • ELaNa-19
    • ALBus
    • CeREs
    • CHOMPTT
    • CubeSail
    • DaVinci
    • ISX
    • NMTSat
    • RSat-P
    • Shields-1
    • STF-1
  • SHFT 2
  • TOMSat EagleScout
  • TOMSat R3
78 kg (172 lb)[30] 500 km 85° LEO NASA[31] Success No attempt
Multiple CubeSats for the NASA-sponsored ELaNa-19 mission.[31] They were deployed from RailPOD dispensers. Was the first NASA mission for Rocket Lab.[32]


2019

First launch for the U.S. Air Force in May.

Flight No. Name Date/time
(UTC)
Launch site Payload Payload Mass Destination Customer(s) Launch outcome Booster recovery
5 "Two Thumbs Up"[33] 28 March 2019, 23:27[34] Mahia, LC-1A R3D2[35] 150 kilograms (330 lb)[36] 425 km 39.5° LEO DARPA Success No attempt
Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration (R3D2) will qualify a new type of membrane reflectarray antenna.[37] Northrop Grumman serves as the prime contractor for R3D2. Blue Canyon Technologies provided the satellite bus, MMA Design provided the antenna.[38]
6 "That's a Funny Looking Cactus"[39] 5 May 2019, 06:00[40] Mahia, LC-1A 180 kilograms (400 lb)[40] 500 km 40° LEO U.S. Air Force Success No attempt
Launch is part of the "Rapid Agile Launch Initiative" (RALI) for the U.S. Air Force.[41] Was first night launch of an Electron and its heaviest payload so far.[42]
7 "Make it Rain" 29 June 2019, 04:30[43] Mahia, LC-1A
  • BlackSky Global 3
  • Prometheus x 2
  • ACRUX-1
  • SpaceBEE 8 and 9
  • Painani 1
[44][45][46]
80 kilograms (180 lb)[47] LEO
Success No attempt
BlackSky Global 3 is part of a constellation of Earth-observing satellites.[45][46] SpaceBEE CubeSats are manufactured by Swarm Technologies to test two-way satellite communication and data relay. SpaceBEE 8 weighs 0.4 kg (0.88 lb) while SpaceBEE 9 weighs 0.7 kg (1.54 lb).[48][49]
8 "Look Ma, No Hands" 19 August 2019, 12:12[50] Mahia, LC-1A
[51]
Approx 80 kilograms (180 lb)[11] LEO
Success No attempt
Breizh Recon Orbiter (BRO-1) is part of a constellation used for tracking maritime vessels. BlackSky Global 4 is part of a constellation of Earth-observing satellites. The two experimental satellites for Air Force Space Command are part of the "Pearl White" technology demonstration program.[51][52]
9 "As the Crow Flies" 17 October 2019, 01:22[53] Mahia, LC-1A
Palisade[54]
Approx 20 kilograms (44 lb)[11] 1200 km LEO Astro Digital[55] Success No attempt
Palisade is a 16U CubeSat technology demonstrator satellite.[56] An upgraded, bi-propellant kick stage lifted the satellite to a 1200 km circular orbit, and then deorbited itself.[57]
10 "Running Out Of Fingers" 6 December 2019, 08:18 [58][59] Mahia, LC-1A
  • ATL-1
  • Fossasat-1
  • NOOR-1A (Unicorn 2B)
  • NOOR-1B (Unicorn 2C)
  • SMOG-P
  • TRSI Sat
  • ALE-2
[59]
Approx 77 kilograms (170 lb)[11] 385 x 400 km LEO
Success Controlled (atmosphere test)
ATL-1 will test new thermal insulation in space. FossaSat-1 is a communications satellite that uses low-power radio frequencies to provide Internet of things connectivity. NOOR-1A and NOOR-1B will demonstrate intersatellite link technology. SMOG-P will use a spectrum analyzer to measure electromagnetic pollution. TRSI Sat will provide flight tracking services. ALE-2 will create artificial shooting star displays.[59] The six satellites other than ALE-2 are PocketQubes, forming Alba Cluster 2 of Alba Orbital.

This mission also was the first guided, full telemetry re-entry of the Electron launch vehicle's first stage as part of Rocket Lab's plans to re-use and re-fly rocket boosters in future missions. Recovery instrumentation on-board this flight included guidance and navigation hardware, including S-band telemetry and on-board flight computer systems, to live-gather data during the first stage's atmospheric re-entry, as well as a reaction control system to orient the booster.[60][61] After the launch Rocket Lab said that the reusability tests were successful.[62]

2020

First launch for the National Reconnaissance Office in January.

Flight

No.

Name Date/time
(UTC)
Launch site Payload Payload Mass Destination Customer(s) Launch outcome Booster recovery
11 "Birds of a Feather" 31 January 2020, 02:56[63] Mahia, LC-1A NROL-151 Classified 590 km x 610 km 70.9° LEO National Reconnaissance Office Success Controlled (atmosphere test)
First launch for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The NRO competitively awarded the contract under the Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket (RASR) contract vehicle. RASR allows the NRO to explore new launch opportunities that can provide a streamlined, commercial approach for getting small satellites into space. For the second time, the Electron booster made it past the atmosphere. Rocket Lab again said their reusability test were successful.[63]
12 "Don't Stop Me Now" 13 June 2020,
05:12:12[64]
Mahia, LC-1A
  • Classified payloads x 3 (USA-301, 302, 303) (NRO)
  • ANDESITE
  • RAAF M2PF (Pathfinder)
Classified LEO NRO, Boston University / NASA and University of New South Wales Canberra Space and the Royal Australian Air Force.[65] Success No attempt
Part of the ELaNa 32 mission, ANDESITE is a satellite designed to study Earth's magnetic field. The M2 Pathfinder satellite will be a technology demonstration satellite to test communications. The flight will also carry three payloads for the NRO.[66][67] Rocket Lab does not plan to do any recovery testing.[67] Flight delayed due to COVID-19.[66] A launch attempt on 11 June 2020 was cancelled due to bad weather.[68] ANDESITE consists of ANDESITE Mule, a 6U parent spacecraft, and ANDESITE Node 1 to Node 8, small magnetometer subsatellites to be ejected from it to study magnetospheric variation. Each Node is 0.20 x 0.10 x 0.025 m in size with a mass of 0.38 kg.[65]

Upcoming launches

In July 2019, Rocket Lab expected to have launches every two weeks in 2020.[69] In June 2020, with a new Electron launch vehicle built every 18 days, Rocket Lab remains on target to deliver monthly launches for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021, including the company's first launch from Wallops LC-2 for the U.S. Space Force in Q3 2020 and a mission to the Moon for NASA aboard Electron and Rocket Lab's spacecraft bus platform Photon in 2021.[70]

2020

Date/time
(UTC)
Launch site Payloads Planned
destination
Customer
5 July 2020
21:13
Mahia, LC-1A
  • CE-SAT-IB
  • SuperDove x 5
  • Faraday 1
LEO
Flight No. 13 name will be "Pics Or It Didn't Happen"[71] The 5 SuperDoves are part of Planet's Flock 4e.[72]
Q3 2020[73] Mahia, LC-1
  • Dragracer 1
  • Dragracer 2
LEO TriSept
Dragracer is a mission to demonstrate electrodynamic deorbiting of satellites.
Q3 2020[74] Mahia, LC-1 Photon TBA Rocket Lab
Will be the first launch of the Photon satellite bus made by Rocket Lab.
Q3 2020 [71] Wallops LC-2 Monolith (STP-27RM) LEO U.S. Space Force
First launch of Electron rocket from Rocket Lab's Launch Complex 2 in Virginia, from the US East Coast.[75]
Q3 2020[76][77] Mahia, LC-1 Whitney 1 LEO Capella Space
Launch of a synthetic aperture radar satellite, for global imagery.[78]
Late 2020[79] Mahia, LC-1 StriX-α LEO Synspective
Test satellite weighing 150 kg (330 lb) using synthetic-aperture radar from a Japanese company. Part of a future constellation of 25 satellites to provide global coverage.[80]
2020[81] Mahia, LC-1
  • Circle 1
Circle Aerospace
2020[82] Mahia, LC-1
  • CE-SAT I Mark II
  • CE-SAT II
LEO Canon Electronics
With Spaceflight,[83] launching the Canon Electronics Satellite I (CE-SAT) Mark II, the first mass-production model of CE-SAT I, an Earth-observing satellite.[84] The CE-Sat II has two cameras on the satellite which has different resolutions, also for Earth observation.[83][85]
2020[82][86] Mahia, LC-1 MCNAIR LEO Akash Systems Inc.
MCNAIR will be launched into a 500 km high sun-synchronous orbit with a 97.8° inclination. The MCNAIR mission has the purpose of testing the "GaN-on-Diamond transmitter".[86]
2020[81] Mahia, LC-1 Flock-x × 20–25[87] LEO Planet Labs
A constellation of satellites for Earth observation. 20 to 25 micro-satellites will be released during the launch.[88]

2021

Date/time
(UTC)
Launch site Payload Planned
destination
Customer
February 2021[89][90] Wallops, LC-2 CAPSTONE Selenocentric (NRHO) NASA
Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) is a cubesat mission that will serve as a precursor for the planned Gateway. Will use Photon to place CAPSTONE on a trajectory to the Moon.
Q2 2021[91] Mahia, LC-1A RASR-3 LEO NRO
Back to back launches between Pad A and B.[92]
Q2 2021[91] Mahia, LC-1B RASR-4 LEO NRO
Back to back launches between Pad A and B.[92]

2022

Date/time
(UTC)
Launch site Payload Planned
destination
Customer
2022[93] Mahia, LC-1 Archinaut One LEO Made In Space, Inc.
Archinaut is an in-space robotic precision manufacturing and assembly system, enabling in-space production and assembly of the backbone structures for large telescopes, repair, augmentation, or repurposing of existing spacecraft, and robotic assembly of new space stations.

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External links

  • Electron Website
  • Rocket Lab Completed Launches
  • Rocket Lab Next Mission